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The Honest Kitchen Dog Food Taste Test

Disclosure: The Honest Kitchen is a sponsor of, much to the droolight of Ty and Buster. We were sent a free bag of Love to test and did not receive any payment for this review. The opinions expressed here are my honest assessment of the product based on my personal experience using it.

The Honest Kitchen has created a brand new dog food formula and named it Love. With ingredients like dehydrated hormone-free beef, sweet potatoes, organic coconut, cranberries, pumpkin, and honey,  it was not a big surprise to me that Ty and Buster loved it.

And that got me to thinking … the boys have been eating the Force formula for nearly two years. I know they still like it because Buster creates a puddle of drool twice a day when I mix it up, and Ty can’t hold a “sit” to save his life! But, would they like one of the other formulas better? It was time for a taste test …

We had samples of six of The Honest Kitchen’s formulas, so we pulled them out and set up the experiment. Apparently Ty thinks they’re also good dry, because he couldn’t even wait until we mixed in the water!

The Honest Kitchen Taste Test The Honest Kitchen Taste Test

We added the warm water, stirred them up, and gave each dog a turn.

The Honest Kitchen Taste Test

Release the hound … uhhh, Shepherd!

The Honest Kitchen Taste Test

Buster was hilarious … being his usual goof-ball self, he bounced from bowl to bowl. Love, Thrive, Love, Keen, Love, Thrive, Verve, Force, Keen, Force, Keen, Force, Embark, Verve, Love, Verve.

The Honest Kitchen Taste Test The Honest Kitchen Taste Test

Ty was only slightly more focused in his approach.

The Honest Kitchen Taste Test

Love, Thrive, Verve, Love, Keen, Force, Embark, Force, Embark, Love, Keen, Thrive.

The Honest Kitchen Taste Test The Honest Kitchen Taste Test

He left a path of destruction in his wake.

The Honest Kitchen Taste Test

We determined each dogs’ favorite food by how many times they had to return to the bowl to finish the sample. If they really liked the food, they ate more of it before moving on to another – right? Based on our unscientific approach, here are the results: The Honest Kitchen Taste Test

It was interesting to see Love come in last, because when we fed it to the dogs by itself they gobbled it up and *loved* it. We were glad to see Embark and Force score so well with both boys, since both of those formulas are grain- and gluten-free.

But, the dogs weren’t the only ones sniffing! Rod and I did a smell test to see which of the aromas we preferred – after all, if you’re going to mix up your dogs’ food twice a day, you might as well enjoy it. With a scent reminiscent of Thanksgiving dinner, Force won our competition followed by Keen and Embark.

After all the testing, we’ve decided to stick with Force as the boys’ primary diet and get a box of Embark occasionally to keep things interesting. Force has fewer calories per serving than Embark, which will help Ty keep his girlish figure, and it’s priced slightly less at $78 per 10lb box. We also tried Zeal, The Honest Kitchen’s fish-based formula, a while back. Though we didn’t have samples to include in the taste test, it would be another option for the boys. Zeal, is also grain- and gluten-free, has the fewest calories per serving, and has more protein than either Force or Embark – but it’s pricier at $108 per 10lb box.

The Honest Kitchen’s dehydrated dog food is perfect for our mobile lifestyle. We usually buy eight 10lb boxes of Force at a time, which makes us eligible for a bulk discount and free shipping. Each 10lb box makes 43 pounds of food, so with two cases on board we’re packing a whopping 344 pounds of dog food! I also love that we can switch the dogs between The Honest Kitchen’s formulas with no gastrointestinal upset. We picked up a box of Embark a week ago, and neither of the boys had any problem switching without the usual “transition protocol” recommended when changing to a different diet. Having that extra flexibility makes our pet travel life a little easier.

The Honest Kitchen Taste Test

Ty wants you to know that if you’d like him to taste-test your dog’s food, he’d be happy to provide his services. He thinks he may have finally found his calling.

Have you ever done a dog food taste test with your pooch? Would the results impact your decision in what food to feed them?


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  • Marianne Stevens says:

    I’m furious to find out that The “Honest” Kitchen cooks their meat. How can they refer to themselves as a raw dehydrated pet food when the meat is cooked?

  • Julie Melfi says:

    Too funny! I’m certain that Cali would have eaten every bowl and licked them clean . . she’s not that discriminating :)

  • Kristine says:

    This is hilarious! I love the idea of a taste test. Obviously the dogs did too! Since my dog will do tricks for pieces of lettuce, I’ve never worried about pleasing her palate. I have a feeling she would scarf it all, one bowl at a time.

    Where do you purchase Honest Kitchen food? I’ve never seen it in stores, only online.

  • I gave Dexter Thrive when he was a baby, but for some reason, he soured on it after a few weeks. Preference is still my go to HK food, since I can add whatever meat that I want. Lucky that you & Rod didn’t do the sniff test on the Keen. All that fish makes it pretty stinky.

  • Kim Clune says:

    This is hilarious!! I love the photos. My guys are such freaks over THK, I imagine a food fight would ensue as they each competed for the other’s bowl, nothing to do with taste. I need to do another video of Emmett excitedly jumping 5 feet in the air like a Jack-in-the-Box, which he only does for his THK breakfast and dinner. That’s what makes our switch to THK most fun.

    As an aside, we dogsat for Quinn, the Be the Change for Animals mascot, last week and she went on a hunger strike, which we learned she does often as they try different foods. Unwilling to change her diet without her mother’s consent, I poured the warm broth of THK’s Ice Pups over her kibble every meal and she ate with exhuberant tail wagging. She couldn’t wait for me to put the bowl down. I shared my “magic juice” with Quinn’s mom, who bought THK for Quinn this week and says Quinn loves it. I love that half the BTC dogs eat THK!

    • I’m so excited that Quinn’s mom now has a food he really likes. Picky eaters are such a challenge to figure out – that’s one thing I’ve never had to worry about with my food hounds! =) And, I can’t wait to see Emmett’s Jack-in-the-Box imitation.

  • Melspetpals says:

    I love The Honest Kitchen. It was really fun to see you test all of the selections out on the dogs. So hilarious! 
    I was laughing at your description of Buster going from dish to dish. I think that would be typical of any Shepherd. Who could resists the smell of the next bowl while you’re eating the one in front of you?
    Perhaps my favorite picture though was Ty with a little dinner on his nose. Jasper gets that too and it always makes me smile. I’m thinking I might branch out from Force and see if the dogs like Love or Embark or Verve. Thanks guys!

    • It was really funny watching them! What I didn’t realized is how hard it would be to follow their course from bowl to bowl and come up with a way (unscientific as it is) to judge their favorite. It’s funny, because Ty often ends up with a little of his food on his nose. I think it would make a great ad for The Honest Kitchen … “Got Force?” ;-)

  • Pamela says:

    I’ve never had a dog dislike any food so I’ve never bothered to do a taste test.

    But I’m interested to hear about dehydrated dog food. I’ve never heard of such a thing before.

    • Obviously, the dehydrated food is perfect for us since it’s so easy to pack, but we started feed it to the boys even before we bought the Winnebago. I love it because it’s a human-grade food – everything in it could be eaten by you and me – and the facilities where it’s manufactured are human-grade as well. I also love that the dogs are ingesting something the consistency of oatmeal. They’re better hydrated, and I imagine a food that has been combined with water is easier to digest. Finally, the dehydration process retains many of the nutrients of the food that are lost in the high temperatures required to manufacture kibble. I guess the proof is in the pudding – Buster and Ty love it, they’ve been healthy, and look great ever since we started feeding it to them nearly 2 years ago. Feel free to ask any questions you want – I could go on and on! :-)

      • Hi Amy:
        I agree.  The Honest Kitchen makes an awesome line of food. My lab eats Preference which I didn’t see listed above as well has Thrive for an occasional change.  Nice job and love the pics!

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